Creativity Under the Gun

DeadlineThere’s nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing, at least for me. This summer I signed up for an online screenwriting class. Reading Save the Cat! (on more than one occasion) has helped me focus my story ideas and I figured taking a class would push me one step further.

Did it ever!

I’ve been working on a sequel to my first novel, Wish You Weren’t, and got stuck in the same place I always do: the climatic scenes where all the car chases, explosions and against-all-odds rescues are supposed to take place. Except that wasn’t happening in my story. The end of my outline sounded stupid. The climax scene wasn’t working. I was bored. And frustrated.

So when my teacher assigned us to write a two-page treatment and then turn it into a five-page script, I decided to take my concept for my sequel, Borrowed Time, and use it for my assignment.

By Monday noon I was sweating bullets. The assignment was due Monday at 5 p.m., but that deadline was irrelevant because my computer was about to die and I’d forgotten to bring my cord on vacation. As I watched the battery percentage drop, I came up with a crazy idea. A flight of fancy that totally fit the spirit of the story. Not only for the homework, but for the book.

I hurriedly finished the assignment and emailed it to my teacher, eager to dive back into completing my book. Once I get a new power cord…

Has your writing ever been inspired by a deadline? From an unexpected source?

(This blog post brought to you courtesy of my husband’s laptop!)

Tips For Reading Aloud at School Visits

Visiting schools and connecting with students is rewarding and inspiring, especially if the kids have read your book and are excited to meet you.

Every speaker has a mouth; 
An arrangement rather neat.
 Sometimes it’s filled with wisdom. Sometimes it’s filled with feet.  ~  Robert Orben

I’ve found using visual aids or props (such as a funny hat) works well in grabbing the kids’ attention . Once you’ve got it, you want to keep it.

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Werewolf hands and storytelling cloak piqued kids’ curiosity at this reading.

Here are a few simple tips that can help to engage your audience while you read short excerpts or whatever you’ve chosen to share:

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  • Practice reading your material aloud beforehand. You’ll sound polished and will nail the pacing. Pause for a second to emphasize certain parts. For example, a line or phrase that’s spooky. The pause adds drama and anticipation.
  • Introduce yourself. Tell them you’re a children’s writer and what ages you write for. Even if you’re not published yet, you’re a writer. They’ll be impressed. Add some interesting, fun, or silly facts about yourself.
  • Give a quick explanation about what you’ll be reading. If it’s an excerpt from your book or anthology, give a brief description about what part of the book you’re reading from. For example, if I’m reading from Secret of Haunted Bog, I tell the kids, “This is the part where AJ Zantony and Freddy ‘Hangman’ Gallows are lost deep in the bog.”
  • Make eye contact often.
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Make eye contact.

  • Mark the spot you’re reading from with your finger or thumb so you don’t lose your place.
  • Avoid speaking in a monotone voice.
  • Speak loud and clear so everyone in the room can hear you. I get a big kick out of startling the kids when I read a short excerpt from Curse at Zala Manor that begins with a shouting “Arrggh!” from Musky, the zombie.
  • Be dramatic. Kids love it, and they’ll pay closer attention. Use different voices for the different characters. I love doing Stumpy the peg-leg skeleton’s scratchy voice when he says, “Give me back me key, wench!” from that same Zala Manor excerpt. It always gets a good reaction.
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Be dramatic and animated.

  • Keep it short. The length should vary according to what grade level you’re dealing with.
  • Variety is the spice of school visits. Depending on how much time you have, switch it up and read a few different things.
  • If you’re speaking into a microphone, it’s much easier if it’s propped up in the stand instead of trying to juggle it plus hold the book or papers you’re reading from.
  • Keep making eye contact and try to cover all areas of your audience so they feel like you’re talking directly to them.
  • If you make a mistake, smile and shrug it off. Kids don’t expect you to be perfect. We all mess up when reading something out loud. They’ll take your cue and follow your example the next time they stumble over words when reading out loud in class.
  • If you have props that go along with the reading, be sure to use them. I had a cheap plastic pirate’s hook from the dollar store that I held while reading Shel Silverstein’s poem “Captain Hook” from Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I used it to touch my toes and put it up to my nose as I read those parts. Arr! The rascals loved it!

Each visit is different, and getting the students’ feedback on their interests and ideas can turn out to be a gold mine for you! So have at it. And pat yourself on the back for taking the time to make a difference and touch young lives.

Do you have any other tips to add? Do you have a favorite anecdote from one of your school visits? Do you love connecting with kids? 

Lynn Kelley Author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon mysteries
Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years while she and her husband, George, raised their four little rascals, but nowadays she’s a goofball in the highest degree who’s susceptible to laughing jags. She tries to control herself out in public, but it’s not easy. She’ll jump at any excuse to wear funky get-ups. For instance, making wacky YouTube videos, entertaining her grandkids, or hanging out at  a costume party.

Her first chapter book, Curse of the Double Digits, debuted in October 2012. Under the pseudonym BBH McChiller she and co-author Kathryn Sant write the fun, spooky Monster Moon mystery series for ages 8 to 12.  Book 1 - Curse at Zala Manor,  Book 2 - Secret of Haunted Bog, and Book 3 - Legend of Monster Island.

My Second Father

1949: The boy peered out from his hiding place as the soldiers grabbed Father and lead him away—every fiber of his being longed to cry out at the injustice, but he dared not. Father’s crime: graduating from an American university, St. John’s University in Shanghai, the Harvard of China. And now the Communists considered him a threat to their new power and they imprisoned folks like that. The boy knew what would happen now: his two brothers and three sisters would go to live with Grandpa and Grandma. He and Mother would flee to Taiwan for he was the eldest son, the one the family’s line depended upon.

So began the inspiring true life story of my father-in-law when he and his mother fled to Taiwan to escape the Communist’s takeover of mainland China. We hear many inspiring stories, but few have the opportunity to live beside someone who endured and overcome adversity as he did.

His story: Arriving in an unfamiliar country, he and Mother got along as best as they could on the money she had brought with her. But within a year, she started feeling sick and within two she died of cancer. The boy who was just starting his freshman year of high school, felt completely lost. Despair nearly won, but when things seemed darkest, one of his high school teachers reached out to a contact at the China Daily News and helped him get a job as a laborer. For a year the boy fetched tea, delivered messages and did all manner of tasks in the evenings, while keeping up his studies during the day. His efforts earned him enough to live on and helped him begin building a foundation for his future. As he started his sophomore year, his superiors promoted him to a proofreader.

Graduation brought with it the challenge of passing an exam in order to enroll in university. After much studying, he succeeded and began a two year course in Journalism. At night he continued his work for the newspaper while pursuing coursework during the day. He graduated and the newspaper promoted him to Reporter. He covered all types of events for three years in Taiwan before they sent him to Qimei, an island off Taiwan. While there, he covered one particular story in more depth than usual, for he had met a woman he took a liking to. At the end of a year when the newspaper called him back to Taiwan, he proposed marriage and she accepted.

Upon his return, the newspaper again promoted him, this time to editor. Seeking to improve their future, the young man again enrolled in college, this time to earn a degree in western literature in order to teach English to high school students. For three years he pursued his degree during the day and continued working for the newspaper in the evening. Upon graduation, he began work as a teacher while continuing his role as editor at night. Finally feeling he was enough ahead to support a wife, he and his beloved married.

Life seemed finally to have reached some measure of stability for the couple as they welcomed their first child two years later. But with the birth of a son, the young man’s ambitions grew. He longed to provide the opportunity for an even better life. Considering his options, he believed the United States was that possibility. But getting into the graduate school through which he could ultimately accomplish that, the School of International Law and Diplomacy, was extremely competitive. Only the top five finalists on the qualifying exam, out of several hundred applicants, would be admitted. After much studying, he sat for the exam and against long odds, he finished among the top five!

As the young man pursued his studies the couple welcomed their second child, a little girl. And with her arrival, the young man’s resolve to create greater opportunity deepened further. Just before he graduated, he sat for and passed the exam to become a career diplomat. Upon graduation, the Taiwanese government put him to work in the Foreign Affairs office where he worked until they sent him to be a representative to El Salvador.

The son and daughter, age five and three at the time, adapted to life in a strange country with a strange language and strange customs. Five years later, after the young man and his wife had saved enough to start over in the United States, he resigned from the Foreign Service and immigrated with his family to Kansas City.

Starting over was difficult, but the young man had done it before. And this time he was not alone. In order to immigrate, the young man had to enroll in college and pursue a degree, trading his diplomatic visa for a student visa which did not permit them to work. And so for two years, the family lived on savings that forbade luxuries. The son well remembers homemade clothes of remnant fabrics that begged ridicule from peers, no school supplies, and a lot of going without.

If graduations had become routine for the young man, this one was anything but, for with it he began a new career, a new life. And his children could at last flourish.

While the young man did not know his ambition and choices would significantly impact me, a WASP American, he has, for had he not worked and sacrificed all he did, my life would be nothing like it is. And so this Father’s Day, I salute my second father, Andrew Lee. Thank you for your sacrifices and your dedication to see your children prosper.

__________________________________________________________________________

Linda1L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson fantasy, adventure series of which four of the seven total books have been released to date. Book five in the series, Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, is expected in Winter 2015.

She writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Her daughter is a senior at UT, Austin and her son serves in the Air Force.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

(Post originally published on L. R. W. Lee’s blog at https://lrwlee.wordpress.com/)

Pin it!

pinterestI’ve finally found a use for Pinterest. I’d heard several authors mention that they use the site for collecting images that inspire their writing or for organizing their ideas. Neither worked for me, so I wrote Pinterest off as a place to browse recipes.

Then I began research for a new YA historical fiction manuscript, Ella Wood.

ella wood kindle  insertSuddenly my “Downloads” folder was being swamped with photos of historic people, old inventions, locations in antebellum Charleston, cover images to old books, artwork, Civil War battlefields, flags, charts, maps, and all sorts of other investigative debris. I finally smacked my palm against my forehead and uploaded them all to Pinterest.

Then I realized I could deposit facts along with my pictures. I began summarizing events, posting dates, and adding how a particular person or place was relevant to my plot. This cut down on a lot of checking back through digital note files, as so much of my important groundwork information was now easily accessible. I also linked images to the websites from which they were gleaned or to related ones, creating a quick file to further information, should I need it. The system worked fabulously!

Once my novel was finished, I publicized my board and posted the link at the front of the book. Now readers have a whole database of images and trivia to browse through to compliment the story. For someone like me, that adds real depth and richness to the plot and grounds it in actual history. As a reader, I’d be thrilled to be provided such a source!

Ella WoodI only wish I had started sooner. It took some time to really figure out how to make the best use of Pinterest’s format—and to remember to do so as I researched. I know plenty of great images got away from me early on simply because I didn’t want to download everything I found to my computer. As memory kicks in, I’ve been searching for a few of those escapees and adding them in.

The second book in my trilogy, Blood Moon, is currently underway. I’m only 15,000 words in and already my new board has nearly as many images as the first one. I will never write another historical fiction novel without Pinterest!

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me3Michelle Isenhoff is currently biking to the moon and back. Between rides, she spends a good deal of time nosing stories out of dusty old tomes.

 

 

When Books Don’t Listen to You as the Writer

The first time I had a book character disobey me, I was in complete shock. I’d heard about it from other writers, but hadn’t experienced it myself. When I told one of my non-writing friends that it had happened, she was pretty sure I was crazy.

Whether you outline or discovery write, you know that sometimes your story will spin in a different direction than what you’d planned. Outliners will then have to redo their outline to fit it in, and discovery writers? They just go along for the ride.

Back to my first experience. My main character’s brother, Adam, was supposed to be a minor character. Someone who was only mentioned in passing.

And then he laughed at me. ”No, sorry. I have to do this. For my sister.”

I stared in shock at the words in front of me as I saw him dart out of the room and try to save the day. I watched him get taken and move the story forward in a way that my main character couldn’t have. The story was so much stronger because of it. Then together, they were able to save the day, and the story wrapped up perfectly. Well, maybe not perfectly because another two books came after that.

There are times when you can reign in your story and tell them to behave, but before you do, weigh the consequences. Will the story suffer if you go a new direction? Will it be stronger? What are you going to have to change after this? Is it worth it?

One great indicator is how the story reacts. If you’re suddenly at a standstill and you can’t go any further, chances are you need to go back and fix a spot. Maybe that sudden inspiration wasn’t what the story needed. And sometimes the different direction is exactly what the plot needed to drive it forward.

I was done with a series last year. My character had saved the day and everything was exactly how I wanted it. Except … my story had other ideas. One day in the middle of church, a whole new plot came to mind and screamed at me to write it.

So I did. Except that I got to the ending and sat there staring at it. Nothing worked. The ending I had planned out didn’t solve anything, and in fact, made it too similar to the ending of the third book. I took a step back and talked to a few friends before suddenly realizing that this wasn’t the end. It had to go a different direction or I would have broken promises I made in the book. After I made that decision, the story flowed perfectly, and I was able to finish it later that day.

And now I have another book to write. But you know what? That’s okay, because I know that going off the beaten path will make this story stronger.

So what’s the craziest thing your characters ever made you write?

The Importance of Mentors

Mentor. noun

  1. a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
  2. an influential senior sponsor or supporter.

Every successful author I come in contact with mentions hYoda memeow they wouldn’t be where they are without the aid of someone special. Someone who took the time to bear them up, give them encouragement and advice, and most of all, be an example. I want to talk today about mentors.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” As writers we have many authors that tell us where to go to find the answers. They say things like, “Check out this book, or visit this website.” Sometimes we are fortunate enough to sit in a class with them as they instruct us on the things we should do to better our craft. The best authors—the mentors, take time to not only instruct us but involve us. They are the ones that show they really care. They are the ones we remember years later when we finally make it.

91QXf1iLg8LA month or so ago I was very discouraged in my writing goals. I had books out and I had great reviews and feedback from kids that had read my books, but my publishing goals were not being met. I was struggling and, after years and years of trying, I was ready to call it quits. That is when my mentor, J. Scott Savage, stepped in. Noticing I was lacking my normal oomph he took me out to lunch to “talk shop.” During that luncheon he did what every great mentor does: he encouraged me, taught me from his own bumpy road of success, and showed me I’d be a fool to give up. I left that luncheon feeling more than supported—I felt guided.

Fast forward to just last weekend and I was at a writing conference in Utah called Storymakers. Here my mentor was again trying to help all he could. Not only me but as many writers that would answer his invite. The morning before the Saturday session he set up a donut breakfast in which he provided a hundred delicious donuts, milk and juice, and invited anyone to come and “talk shop” about anything to help them on their writing journey. It was by far one of the best moments I had that weekend.

jack6.000x9.000.inddWith his “Pay it Forward” mentality J. Scott Savage teaches me the type of author I want to be. He is my mentor and I am proud to call him such. I hope that one day when I make my goals as an author I can be this type of mentor to others that are like me now. I encourage aspiring writers to find mentors to help them on their journey. I invite all authors who feel they have something to offer others to help and be a mentor. So many would not be where they are today if someone didn’t take the time to show they cared.

J. Scott Savage is a middle-grade author of several books including the totally-awesome Farworld series, Case Files 13 series, and the newly anticipated series Mysteries of the Cove available this fall. You can find more information on him at http://jscottsavage.com/.

Chicka Chicka vs. Paper Towns

chick vs paper

In a little over a week’s time, I’ll be sitting down to breakfast with hundreds of other authors who write for “children” at the New York City Book Expo of America “Children’s Book & Author Breakfast.”  I am very excited. Nathan Hale and James Patterson will be there, along with many others.

However, I must admit, when my friend said she and her agent wanted to go to the breakfast, I was confused.

“But you write for Young Adults,” I said. “Why do you want to go to eat breakfast with authors who write children’s  books?”

It was then I was reminded that even in one of the most innovative cities in all of the United States books written for someone under the age of 18 are all still classified as a “children’s books.”

Huh?

It’s true. Young Adult, Middle Grade, Chapter book, and picture book authors are typically lumped together in the same category.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I get a chuckle thinking about the authors of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom having a chat over a coffee and bagel with John Green, author of the edgy YA fiction such as Paper Towns. It seems silly to consider them in the same category, but that is what the industry currently does.

Emblazoners, however, is different. We are a group of writers who call attention to the unique needs and interests of the “tween” reader. Emblazoner authors have all published books for those between the ages of 9 to 12—an age that often gets lost in the “children’s books” category.

So if you know someone who has out grown “little kid stories” but who isn’t ready for the edgy material in some Young Adult books, this is the place for you.

Stop. Take a peek around. You’ll find the works of twenty-five talented authors whom I would love to go to breakfast with someday.

frog-mascot-dies

Me Write Funny One Day, Part 1: So Long and Thanks For All the Frogs

Print

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.  –E.B. White

frog-mascot-dies

 So . . . let’s kill some frogs, shall we?

In my last post I explored the phenomenon of the reluctant reader, concluding that both graphic novel formats and humor can be key to ditching the X Box in favor of a book.  Not every writer can whip out a graphic novel, but most of us can make our writing funnier.  In the next two posts, I’ll talk about what makes writing funny, how to get more (but not too much) funny into your writing, and how to identify books for middle grade readers that don’t equate funny with the words “fart” and “butt.”   (Am I right, weary parent?)

 It’s All About That Layering  

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, good humorous fiction is a chuckle wrapped in a guffaw inside a knowing smile.  By that I mean that, while Meghan Trainor may be all about that bass, true humorous fiction is all about that layering. Some jokes take a full chapter to develop, some take several chapters, and some even take the whole book.  In this post we’ll focus on the simplest layer, the thin veneer, if you will, of humor: the famous (and infamous) one-liner.

Did you hear the one about the one-liner?  (. . . it felt all a-groan)

One-liners are quick, one-dimensional jokes most anyone can write now and then.  Part of the reason they are so easy to write is that there are a myriad of forms to choose from. Here are some common categories along with examples from my novels Kibble Talk and Dog Goner (from my ongoing Kibble Talk series).

 1. EXAGGERATION.        Zach is so thin and bony he could hoola hoop with a Cheerio.

 I do a lot of exaggerating in my novels and it can be a blast to write—I just let my mind spiral out in ever more ridiculous circles until I hit the right image.  But two caveats.

First, it is easy to be overly cruel.  If you are writing for children, a little wincing on the part of your readers is okay as long as it’s only a tiny little wince and it’s accompanied by a chuckle.  If you’re writing for adults, you can go for the gut punch, but again, there must be a correspondingly impactful laugh.

Second, if you are writing in first person dialogue, make sure your language conforms to the way your character (in terms of age, education, etc.) would speak and think about the world.  In the example above, a nine year old is describing her best friend’s super skinny older brother. Your average nine year old is familiar with both hoola hooping and Cheerios cereal. On the other hand, your average nine-year-old would not be so familiar (one hopes) with someone being so skinny he could fit into the barrel of a 9-gage shotgun.

Here’s a few more examples of exaggeration from my writing:

  • His face was kind of pointy, with eyes so small it looked like they might disappear the next time he blinked.
  • That lady could talk the ears off a field of corn.
  • Dinky prancing is worse than a hip-hopping hippo.

2. SURPRISE:        “I am a humble man and I will shout that from the mountaintops,” Mr. Higginbotham said.

Here the reader anticipates that the last half of the sentence will reinforce the message given in the first half, but instead, it entirely contradicts it. This type of one-liner is perfect for delineating a ridiculous character—one who, like Mr. Higginbotham, is oblivious to his own contradictions.  It is funny to your audience because they do see the contradiction.

3. Set up a funny visual. (Here Tawny is describing her dog to us for the very first time.  The actual one-liner is the last sentence, but you need the lead-up for it to make sense.)

Dinky is huge. He is a Great Dane and an especially great one at that. He weighs more than my dad and is taller than my dad when they are both down on all fours. His undersides are the color of whipped cream, his back, legs and head are caramel, and his face and ears are chocolate brown.  I like to think he’s the world’s largest ice cream sundae! 

 I like this visual in particular because it explains a great deal more than just Dinky’s size and coloring.  Without her coming out and telling us, it provides an immediate sense of Tawny’s feelings for her dog.  Using those same exact colors, she could have compared him to a military tank in desert camouflage.  Instead, he is every child’s dream—an enormous sweet treat.

4. PHRASE TWIST:  Jenny has a way with words, and by that I mean that when she is using words, people get out of her way.

I use this style of one-liner the least in my fiction because a) the jokes tend to be formulaic and can come off as wooden, and b) your audience must be familiar with the original phrase and I can’t be as sure of that with children.  But if cleverly done, they are very memorable because the reader already knows the original line.

5. BODY HUMOR:

This isn’t so much a category as a caveat. In all of these one-liner formats, body humor is always an option.  Both kids and adults (you know who you are!) DO think butts and farts are funny. But if you want your books to be enjoyed by all ages, as I do, you will want to limit them. The Kibble Talk series is certainly not immune to body part and body effluence jokes. After all, these are talking dog books, and dogs aren’t exactly shy about their bodies.  But I use them sparingly, and to even things out, I add in plenty of one-liners that only adult readers are likely to get, such as a math teacher talking about the finer points of isosceles triangles, how table manners are genetically determined, and even references to The Fonz and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Rotten Tomato Blaster is No Laughing Matter

The challenge when it comes to one-liners is not in the writing, but in deciding where, when, and how much to use them. The well-placed one liner in an otherwise serious book (mystery, crime, romance, etc.) will endear your readers to you, especially when it arrives like a lifeline just after an emotionally fraught moment. But what do you do when your whole genre is humor?  One thing you don’t do is rely so heavily on one-liners that they are essentially the only layer of humor in the book.

Sadly, I see this most often in children’s humorous fiction. Wanting to please her audience, the writer thinks to herself: “Children, and especially boys, like jokes, so all I need to do is write a lot of them and they will love my books.”  Sigh.

frog not amused

When that happens, the book becomes a series of throwaway lines and personal slams drowning in a soup of endless whining and negativity, very much like this sentence. The first few quips may be entertaining, but after a short while of having to react to them over and over again, the reader feels as if he or she is in a batting cage at the receiving end of a pitching machine well stocked with rotten tomatoes. Splat! Splat! Make it stop!  Splat!

Of course, the real problem is that with so much of the page (and so much of the writer’s mental energy) devoted to the next one-liner, there’s little room left for character development and storyline.

By all means use one-liners, but make them an occasional treat, not the main course. For true humorous fiction—satisfying humorous fiction—the funny must go wider and deeper.

The House That Funny Built

Stay tuned for my next Emblazoners post, Me Write Funny One Day Part 2, where I will share my methods for doing just that. I’ll be pulling examples from two of my favorite series (Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones and Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) as well as more from my Kibble Talk series, so it wouldn’t be the worst idea ever to rush out and read all those tomorrow, now, would it?  Just sayin. And if you can find a young person to read them with, all the better—cause just like hugs, funny is best when shared.

No frogs were harmed

How do YOU funny?
If you’re a writer, how much emphasis do you put on humor? Where do you usually use it?  If you’re a parent, how much does humor seem to matter to your young reader(s)?

kibble talkBio pic white backgroundDog Goner

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting New Release!

Bk4Cover_200x300Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace by L. R. W. Lee

When Andy Smithson landed back home from his most recent adventure in the land of Oomaldee, little did he realize the hunt the evil King Abaddon, monarch of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, would initiate to capture and punish him for thwarting his plans for eternal life for yet a third time. Meanwhile, when Methuselah, Andy’s amazong sword, unexpectedly extends in Mom’s hand while in Texas, something it has never done for him, it triggers more revelations about her past.

After a frustrating and, at times, terrifying year, Andy finally returns to Oomaldee and joins the healer, Hans’ quest to locate the only surviving heir to the throne of Cromlech. In the process, Andy and company discover the Giant’s Ring, the center of Cromlech’s healing powers, has been destroyed by Abaddon’s evil sorcerer. The situation grows dire when Andy finds that the phoenix who rose from that land millennia before has returned to be reborn and the evil mage has trapped her inside the decimated Ring. Without the freedom to collect the materials she needs to build a pyre, she will die. Andy knows failure is not an option for he needs a feather from this phoenix as the next ingredient to break the curse. Will Andy and his friends free the phoenix in time? Will they be able to fix the Ring and restore Cromlech’s healing powers? Will Andy collect a phoenix feather?

Purchase in Kindle and Paperback formats

The Buzz

“I really enjoyed this book! The author writes a thrilling action-adventure story that keeps you on the edge of your bean bag chair. I will admit, I stayed up late reading this book – it was that good! L. R. W. Lee has a talent for writing fantasy. The story flows well and has plenty of action to keep the reader wanting more. A great read!”                                                                                                      - Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books (Erik is 14)
Erik awarded the book 5 Bookworms!

“L. R. W. Lee’s best book of the Andy Smithson series to date!”                                                                                                     - Richard Weatherly, Author

Watch L. R. W. Lee discuss Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace on Book Nerd Paradise on YouTube at bit.ly/1DsOOfi

SHOW vs. TELL

We’ve all been advised, many times, to “Show, don’t tell.” It’s become a repeated mantra from members of critique groups—like a broken record. Many consider it one of the most important rules of fiction. New writers are continually advised to let the reader discover what they are saying by watching the action and listening to the dialogue instead of reading a descriptive narrative.

Well, brace yourselves for this writer’s opinion. Although it’s good advice, “show, don’t tell” is not a universal truth that transcends every other rule of writing. While it is true that showing can help to instill more life into your characters and scenes, it’s not necessary to “show” all the time. Some things need to be told rather than shown. Telling provides a shortcut. It can offer a better solution for moving the reader quickly from one dramatic scene to the next, keeping the pace accelerated and holding the readers’ interest. If a writer uses showing all the time, their words can blur into monotony with the same rhythm and tone. Worse, the important parts—the dramatic parts—won’t stand out, and you will end up wearing your reader out unnecessarily.
In addition, by its very nature, showing requires more words. If you try to write a novel using only showing, it might end up being ridiculously long. In my opinion, telling is not the horrible taboo some writing instructors and critique group members claim it is. Contrary to the previous advice you’ve been given, there are many places in your novel where telling is actually more appropriate. Your objective as the writer is to find the proper balance between telling and showing. The next time you’re given the advice of “show, don’t tell” don’t blindly follow the suggestion without considering the purpose of the words in that portion of your work.

I’ll end with the advice of novelist Francine Prose: ”…the warning against telling leads to a confusion that causes novice writers to think that everything should be acted out.”